Economic normalization between Jordan and Syria… will it be followed by a merger with the new Levant alliance?
The Truck Owners Syndicate estimates the value of the losses incurred by the sector as a result of a decade of the Syrian crisis and the closure of the northern border at about $1.6 billion, as 800 trucks were traveling between Jordan and Syria before the revolution.
Jordan-Syria border The driver, Mustafa Khaza’leh, 44, spends his days traveling in his truck between the Syrian border and the ports of the coastal city of Aqaba, 350 kilometers from the capital Amman, south of Jordan, to the Syrian capital, Damascus, and north to Homs and Aleppo.
On the back of his truck, he carries containers with a variety of goods, including wool yarns imported for the textile factories there, or containers of glass, solar panels, or local exports of plastic or petrochemical raw materials, according to what the driver Khazaleh tells Al Jazeera Net.
A few meters from the gate of the northern crossing separating the Jordanian-Syrian border, known as the Jaber-Naseeb crossing, Khaza’ala stopped his truck, waiting for his turn to enter the border area, to inspect the loaded containers.
Accompanying him on his fortieth journey is Amer Al-Zoubi, who is carrying a container of plastic raw materials, and he tells Al-Jazeera Net, “Since about two months ago, the transport movement between Aqaba and the Levant improved, so during the month we make two to three trips.”
Al-Zoubi describes the security situation on the Syrian side as “safe,” and says that “the roads are open, and we even brought some containers to Aleppo and Homs.” However, the problem facing the trucks is that they often “return empty without being loaded, which is a loss for the owners of those trucks.” .
Trucks charge 750 dinars (1,000 dollars) for the trip, according to drivers, and the trip duration ranges between one and two weeks, according to customs clearance procedures.
The Jaber Nassib border crossing between Jordan and Syria witnessed during the last quarter of last year a tangible improvement in the movement of trade exchange between the two countries, especially the movement of trucks loaded with Syrian imports through the ports of the Jordanian city of Aqaba.
In addition, Amman is preparing to restart the electrical interconnection line with Damascus and Beirut, pending the completion of the Syrian side repairing the infrastructure of the destroyed electricity network there, after an agreement signed by the energy ministers of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Save money and time
Syrian traders and importers ship their goods imported from China, South and East Asia to the ports of Aqaba, due to the low prices of sea freight, which range between 6 thousand and 9 thousand dollars for a 40-foot container, while the cost of the same container arriving at Syrian ports is 16 thousand dollars, according to clearing companies.
The head of the Syndicate of Owners of Clearance and Transport of Goods, Daifallah Abu Aqoula, estimates the rate of increase in the movement of trucks and goods clearance during the past year by 1000%, compared to previous years.
Abu Aqoula adds to Al Jazeera Net that the high costs of sea freight and the long period of arrival of imported goods to the Syrian ports in Tartous and Latakia, prompted Syrian importers and manufacturers to import their goods through the ports of Aqaba, to speed up import operations.
The Kingdom reopened the land crossing between it and Syria at the end of September of last year, and the Jordanian authorities provided a number of facilities to expedite the movement of Syrian imports, most notably canceling the “back to back” system, and speeding up customs inspection and clearance procedures for those containers.
The opening of the border crossing was preceded by high-level meetings that included the ministers of foreign affairs, industry, water, energy and agriculture, and the head of the Jordanian Joint Chiefs of Staff, with their Syrian counterparts.
30 trucks per day
The Syrian authorities also provided facilities for Jordanian trucks transporting Syrian goods, according to Nael Thiabat, deputy head of the Truck Owners Syndicate, who explained that the security situation on the Syrian side is reassuring and that trucks move easily and smoothly there.
Thiabat adds to Al Jazeera Net that the improvement is noticeable in the movement of trucks during the past two months, and the number of trucks departing from Jordan to Syria reaches 30 trucks per day, loaded with imported containers or goods transported from the local market, in addition to about 150 trucks operating as “transit” for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries.
The Truck Owners Syndicate estimates the value of losses incurred by the sector as a result of a decade of the Syrian crisis and the closure of the northern border at about $1.6 billion, as 800 trucks were traveling between Jordan and Syria before the revolution there.
Economically, analyst Hossam Ayesh believes that Jordan, by facilitating the movement of Syrian imports, restores part of its commercial activity with the Syrian side, occupies the port of Aqaba with its full capacity, contributes to the two countries’ exit from their economic crisis, and benefits from customs, tax and logistical revenues.
Ayesh adds to Al Jazeera Net that Jordan has obtained “a green light from the American administration for the state of economic openness to Damascus, especially with regard to the penalties of the Caesar Act,” a situation that may pave the way for “political openness and rehabilitation of the Syrian regime and its integration into the new Levant alliance that includes Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.” , According to him.
During the first ten months of last year 2021, the volume of Jordanian exports to Syria amounted to $95 million, registering an 84% growth compared to 2020, in which the total volume of exports reached $51 million, according to the Jordan Chamber of Industry.
While the volume of imports from Syria during the same period recorded 56 million dollars, achieving a growth of 68%, as the Kingdom imported 33 million dollars.